First Paul, then Barry, then Len – I met them all, but only in a nominal sense.
Back in the 80’s I worked at LWT standing proudly on the river – that’s LWT not me – next door to Gabriels wharf where I bought bespoke ceramics and a big wooden lion who stood in my garden for years.
I had come to London Weekend having been sacked from TVam. Breast feeding on the telly in 1987 was a crime so me and my mammories’ were removed.
After a small while I was approached by ITV to do a screen test
‘We love you on camera but you look like…’
‘A pile of shit.’ I finished the producers sentence.
‘Yes you do. Go and get your hair done.’
So I borrowed fifteen quid form my neighbour and went to Lionel Anthony who did me a cut and blow job. The screen test was repeated and I got the gig.
Four and half years of fronting, anchoring, presenting and then getting sacked, yet again, for questioning the authority of men in little grey suits, or maybe that should read little grey men in suits, or maybe it should just read arseholes. Anyway up to the 18th floor I went where I was dismissed.
I rarely showed my anger when I got the boot but this particular dismissal was unfair and untrue. I went down into the makeup area and kicked the living daylights out of a cupboard. I came off worse than it did.
Mr. Paul O’Grady came into the war zone and emitted a wave of support. Nothing said just that smile that said he understood and was on my side.
Before LWT I’d spent four and a half years being the naughty girl next to Parky, David Frost and Anne Diamond. My first stint of sofa telly.
Since I apparently didn’t give a fuck I was invited to do all sorts of minor celebrity jobs one of which was being Dame Edna’s straight man/woman on a trip to Madrid. We were doing some kind of corporate job.
Little did I know I was coming down with chicken pox so my memory was foggy, it still is. Still I sat on a stool next to the Dame being a younger version of his mealy mouthed Madge.
That night over dinner Dame Edna hosted the rest of us guests one of whom was Dennis Healey; Labour politician, amateur photographer and owner of the bushiest eyebrows in Leeds. The Right Honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer told us of the time when he was in India taking photographs of an armless, legless beggar. Dame Edna asked Mr. Healey what did he give him, to which Denis replied
‘F/22 at 16 seconds’
Barry Humphries led the laughter.
And then there was the time I interviewed Len Goodman on LBC. He grew up in Bethnal Green and I was raised in Aldgate, just down the road. It was inevitable we would get on, although he did get on with everybody.
‘We should have a programme together ‘ he said
I was flattered.
‘We should call it Len and Jen’
It never happened of course. He went on to to become the face of ‘Strictly’ and I went on to become the voice of dissent.
And so in the space of a week the world has became a drearier place. I, however live on to tell the tales, in spite of making so many hospital visits I don’t know whether I’m Carmen or Cohen that well known Sephardic double act.
The brave old git is gearing up for his first Chemo session on Friday. He’s had blood tests and swabs. Lectures on side effects, booklets on side effects, side effects from the small print about side effects. He’s been told to have skin cream at the ready, water bottles at all times and a sick bucket in the car just in case.
We’ve been given free parking, free advice and an incredible team of nurses, doctors, phlebotomists and McMillan carers. And now we know for certain why the NHS needs more funds. We have seen with our own eyes what Aneurin Bevan began in 1945 giving humble folk thousands and thousands of pounds worth of free treatment. That cackle of Westminster hyenas would do well to remember what Aneurin Bevan stood for as they strip away the very fabric of our lives.
Thank God for Ms Diane Julie Abbott who has now taken the spotlight away from Sudan, the junior doctors strike and potholes. Ms Abbott has probably cost the Labour Party yet more votes as the united cast of entitled wankers rub their hands in glee.
So as April sloshes its way into May and life, as we know it, seems to be stumbling towards the abyss I will remind you what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said; ‘Out of chaos comes a dancing star.’
So as ‘The Savage’ and Dame Edna wend their way into the ether let the lovely Len lead us out of the chaos into a merry dance. *Seveeeeen*.
1 thought on “A hat trick of goodbyes”
2 drag queens & a ballroom dancer (who the hoi polloi often assume are also ‘queens’) in less than a few weeks, all 3 of whom were much beloved. Maybe 2023 is planning to rival 2016 in ‘celebrity deaths’.